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Grant Thornton Botswana celebrates annual “Global CSR Day” and Tshwaragano Primary School’s 40th anniversary

Audit, accounting and tax firm supports educational facility in Old Naledi

Old Naledi – For many years, Grant Thornton Botswana (a member firm of Grant Thornnton International Limited – GTIL) has been committed to making a difference in people’s lives and giving back to the local community through various Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities. “GT (Growing Together) in the community” is a core pillar of their global strategy and also the basis of their annual “Global CSR Day”. On this day, Grant Thornton member firms all over the world engage in community service and collectively celebrate giving back to worthy causes in their respective communities.

In 2017, Grant Thornton Botswana pledged to support Tshwaragano Primary School, that houses over 1,100 children from the area of Old Naledi. In 2018, Grant Thornton continued its support and donated items to the value of P50,000 during its annual “Global CSR day”. This donation comes at a time when Tshwaragano Primary School is celebrating its 40th anniversary. When receiving the gifts, the head teacher Ms Spanky Kelopang stated that she was grateful for the support of Grant Thornton, and appreciates the second visit from the accounting firm.

She mentioned that previously the academic performance of students had declined, however in the last year results have improved and she was certain that with the kind of support that Grant Thornton is giving, the results will indeed improve further. She gave an update that the photocopier that Grant Thornton had donated last year has helped in ensuring provision of individual notes and examination papers and fulfilling many other school needs, and further mentioned that this has raised the enthusiasm of the students.

Grant Thornton Managing Partner Mr Kalyanaraman Vijay stated that he was happy to hear about the progress since last year and further confirmed the organization’s commitment to supporting the school to improve students’ results. He presented the beneficiaries with the donation which include PSLE revision books, library books, educational games, boxes of sanitary pads for female students, signage and plaque to brand the school, goody bags, and trophies, certificates and school bags for their 40th anniversary prize giving celebration – all to the value of P50,000. To make the day special for each of the 1,100 students and teachers, the entire staff of Grant Thornton took time off work to spend the day with the students painting the reception classes, engaging in life skills training, playing games, singing and celebrating the spirit of togetherness.

 

Grant Thornton has had an inclination towards supporting educational and life skill development causes, and has previously extended their support to organizations such as Gamodubu Primary School, Pudulogong Rehabilitation and Development Centre, and Dinaletsana Developmental Centre to name a few.

Grant Thornton is also an Authorized Training Employer endorsed by the Botswana Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA), and provides sponsorship and training to student perusing professional qualifications such as BICA, ACCA, CIMA, CIA, etc. This year, Grant Thornton Botswana also supported Grant Thornton Kenya’s effort for raising funds for Katani Secondary School, by sending 6 management representatives to part take in the Mount Kenya climb.

Grant Thornton offers a number of services including assurance, advisory, tax, outsourcing and corporate services.

About Grant Thornton in Botswana: Grant Thornton Botswana is a member firm of Grant Thornton International Limited. Previously known as ‘Acumen Associates’, Grant Thornton has been operating in Botswana since 1976. Grant Thornton has advanced from a traditional audit, accounting and tax practice and now offers a broad range of services to privately held businesses, public limited companies and the public sector. With offices in Gaborone and Francistown, and innovative service offerings such as outsourcing, transfer secretarial and audits in the field of IT and control assessment, Grant Thornton offers a full range of services to help clients of all sizes address the challenges and opportunities for growth.

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UDC founder warns against merger

19th October 2020
Ex UDC Convener: Mpotokwane

Lebang Mpotokwane, one of the conveners who presided over the opposition cooperation talks that resulted in the formation of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), has advised against changing the current umbrella model in favour of a merger as proposed by others.

The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader, Dumelang Saleshando recently went public to propose that UDC should consider merging of all opposition parties, including Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BNF).

Saleshando has been vehemently opposed by Botswana National Front (BNF), which is in favour of maintaining the current model.  BNF’s position has been favoured by the founding father of UDC, who warned that it will be too early to ditch the current model.

“UDC should be well developed to promote the spirit of togetherness on members and the members should be taught so that the merger is developed gradually. They should approach it cautiously. If they feel they are ready, they can, but it would not be a good idea,” Mpotokwane told WeekendPost this week.

Mpotokwane and Emang Maphanyane are the two men who have since 2003 began a long journey of uniting opposition parties in a bid to dethrone the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BCP) as they felt it needed a strong opposition to avoid complacency.

Tonota born Mpotokwane is however disappointed on how they have been ejected from participating in the last edition of talks ahead of the 2019 general elections in which BCP was brought on board.  However, despite the ejection, Mpotokwane is not resentful to the opposition collective.

He said the vision of opposition unity was to ultimately merge the opposition parties but he believes time has not arrived yet to pursue that path. “The bigger picture was a total merger and we agreed that with three independent parties, members might be against merger eventuality so the current model should be used until a point where they are now together for as long as possible,” he said.

“UDC should gradually perform better in elections and gain confidence. They should not rush the merger. We have been meeting since 2003, but if they rush it might cause endless problems. If they are ready they can anyway,” he advised. For now the constituent parties of the umbrella have been exchanging salvos with others (BCP and BNF).

“There are good reasons for and against merging the parties. Personally, I am in favour of merging the parties (including AP and BPF) into a single formation but I know it’s a complex mission that will have its own challenges,” Saleshando said when he made his position known a week ago.

“Good luck to those advocating for a merger, it will be interesting to observe the tactics they will use to lure the BPF into a merger,” former BNF councillor for Borakalalo Ward and former BNF Youth League Secretary General, Arafat Khan, opined in relation to BCP’s proposed position.

Mpotokwane, who is currently out in the cold from the UDC since he was ejected from the party’s NEC in 2017, said the current bickering and the expected negotiations with other parties need the presence of conveners.

“We did not belong to any party as conveners so we were objective in our submissions. If party propose any progressive idea we will support, if it is not we will not, so I would agree that even now conveners might be key for neutrality to avoid biasness,” he observed. Despite being abandoned, Mpotokwane said he will always be around to assist if at all he is needed.

“If they want help I will be there, I have always been clear about it, but surely I will ask few questions before accepting that role,” he said. UDC is expected to begin cooperation talks with both AP and BPF either this week or next weekend for both upcoming bye-elections (halted by Covid-19) and 2024 general elections and it is revealed that there will be no conveners this time around.

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BDP attaches Boko’s property

19th October 2020
DUMA BOKO

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) moved through its lawyers to attach the property of Umbrella for Democratic (UDC) President Duma Boko and other former parliamentary contestants who failed in their court bid to overturn the 2019 general elections in 14 constituencies.

WeekendPost has established that this week, Deputy Sheriffs were commissioned by Bogopa Manewe Tobedza and Company who represented the BDP, to attach the properties of UDC elections contents in a bid to recover costs.  High Court has issued a writ of execution against all petitioners, a process that has set in motion the cost recovery measures.

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COVID-19 exposes decay in the education system

19th October 2020
Education Systm

Botswana Sectors of Teachers Union (BOSETU) says COVID-19 as a pandemic has negatively affected the education sector by deeply disrupting the education system. The intermittent lockdowns have resulted in the halting of teaching and learning in schools.

The union indicated that the education system was caught napping and badly exposed when it came to the use of Information System (IT), technological platforms and issues of digitalisation.

“COVID-19 exposed glaring inefficiencies and deficiencies when it came to the use of ITC in schools. In view of the foregoing, we challenge government as BOSETU to invest in school ITC, technology and digitalization,” says BOSETU President Kinston Radikolo during a press conference on Tuesday.

As a consequence, the union is calling on government to prioritise education in her budgeting to provide technological infrastructure and equipment including provision of tablets to students and teachers.

“Government should invest vigorously in internet connectivity in schools and teacher’s residences if the concept of flexi-hours and virtual learning were to be achieved and have desired results,” Radikolo said.

Radikolo told journalists that COVID-19 is likely to negatively affect final year results saying that the students would sit for the final examinations having not covered enough ground in terms of curriculum coverage.

“This is so because there wasn’t any catch up plan that was put in place to recover the lost time by students. We warn that this year’s final examination results would dwindle,” he said.

The Union, which is an affiliate of Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Union (BOFEPUSU), also indicated that COVID-19’s presence as a pandemic has complicated the role of a teacher in a school environment, saying a teacher’s role has not only transcended beyond just facilitating teaching and learning, but rather, a teacher in this COVID-19 era, is also called upon to enforce the COVID-19 preventative protocols in the school environment.

“This is an additional role in the duty of a teacher that needs to be recognized by the employers. Teachers by virtue of working in a congested school environment have become highly exposed and vulnerable to COVID-19, hence the reason why BOSETU would like teachers to be regarded as the frontline workers with respect to COVID-19,” says Radikolo.

BOSETU noted that the pandemic has in large scales found its way into most of the school environments, as in thus far more than 50 schools have been affected by COVID-19. The Union says this is quite a worrying phenomenon.

“As we indicated before when we queried that schools were not ready for re-opening, it has now come to pass that our fears were not far-fetched. This goes out to tell that there is deficiency in our schools when it comes to putting in place preventative protocols. In our schools, hygiene is compromised by mere absence of sanitizers, few hand-washing stations, absence of social distancing in classes,” the Union leader said.

Furthermore, Radikolo stressed that the shifting system drastically increased the workload for teachers especially in secondary schools. He says teachers in these schools experience very high loads to an extent that some of them end up teaching up to sixty four periods per week, adding that this has not only fatigued teachers, but has also negatively affected their performance and the quality of teaching.

In what the Union sees as failure to uphold and honour collective agreements by government, owing to the shift system introduced at primary schools, government is still in some instances refusing to honour an agreement with the Unions to hire more teachers to take up the extra classes.

“BOSETU notes with disgruntlement the use of pre-school teachers to teach in the mainstream schools with due regard for their specific areas of training and their job descriptions. This in our view is a variation of the terms of employment of the said teachers,” says Radikolo.

The Union has called on government to forthwith remedy this situation and hire more teachers to alleviate this otherwise unhealthy situation. BOSETU also expressed concerns of some school administrators who continuously run institutions with iron fists and in a totalitarian way.

“We have a few such hot spot schools which the Union has brought to attention the Ministry officials such as Maoka JSS, Artesia JSS, and Dukwi JSS. We are worried that the Ministry becomes sluggish in taking action against such errant school administration. In instances where action is taken, such school administrators are transferred and rotated around schools.”

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